Chapter 1 - Silencing a Snitch
Paulo Ricci was a well-known snitch around the city and now he was in some seriously deep shit; that much he knew for certain!
The middle-aged bald construction manager had been grabbed in the middle of the night from his place of business and brought to this mysterious location by several men wearing well-pressed black business suits. These men worked for the incredible rich and infamous Mafia Boss, Dante Romano. The heavily armed men were after information and rumour had it that Paulo possessed this particular key piece of information.
Paulo's heart was thumping loudly over and over within his hairy chest as he knelt in silence on the hardened cement floor of a small, dimly-lit room. The air around him smelt of copper; usually an unfortunate telling sign of blood being nearby in their type of industry; waste management, so to speak.
A black silken sack had been pulled over his head since he was first grabbed and remained in place, preventing him from seeing anything around him but a small glare of reflection from the room’s dim lighting. Paulo was currently surrounded by several well-dressed Mafia henchmen, each was armed and fully prepared to put him down if and when given the signal to do so.
Swallowing nervously, Paulo listened in as he suddenly heard the approaching sound of expensive Italian loafers clapping across the cement floor, one agonisingly slow footstep after another.
“Who’s there?” he called out, his head turning around from side to side in an effort to see something, anything, “Someone tell me why I’m here. Why have you brought me here?”
“You know why you’re here Paulo.” Dante’s voice was deep and silky smooth as he tapped the end of his cigarette and caused a small amount of silver ash to fall down to the ground in front of their captive before lifting it again to his lips and taking another long drag.
Within an instance the silk hood was pulled off of Paulo’s head, revealing the room to him as he squinted dark his eyes from the sudden blinding light. It took a moment for his eye sight to adjust to the dim lighting but eventually he could see everything, including the dangerously intimidating Mafia Boss standing less than a metre in front of him, casually smoking a cigarette.
“Dante…” Paulo spoke a whisper of disbelief as his eyes widened at the sudden realisation.
He was in deep shit alright!
“Tell me where he is and I might decide to be lenient with you.” Dante continued to press unusually calmly.
“Please, I don’t know what you’re talking about…” Paulo pleaded, causing Dante to roll his glistening green eyes with frustration and nod at the man standing beside their kneeling captive.
“Dante, please, I don’t know…”
Nicola, the giant-of-a-man with the gun standing beside the kneeling Paulo quickly moved in on their captive, proceeding to cock the black glock he had been holding onto and then place the weapon’s nozzle firmly up against the side of Paulo’s bald head as the captive suddenly gasped in terror.
“Holy shit! Please... please no!”
“I won’t ask again.” Dante spoke sternly, smoke billowing out from his open mouth as both his brows rose with warning, “Last chance.”
“Ok, ok! Just don’t shoot…” Pablo pleaded, glancing between Dante and the man with the gun standing beside him, “All I have is a name. Just a name.”
“Just a name?” Dante clarified.
“Spill it.” Dante commanded sternly after exhaling yet another puff of his cigarette into the air.
Dante narrowed his eyes in suspicion.
“I’m not sure if you’ve realised this or not Paulo, but Natalia is a woman’s name.” Dante reminded him coolly, “I was told the contact was a man.”
“Yeah, I didn’t believe it either, at first. But their contact is actually a woman, those were merely rumours concocted by Rafael and his men in an effort to throw you and his other rivals off of his scent... It’s the God’s honest truth, I swear!”
“Where’s the shipment docking? What time? Details Paulo, come on…” Dante continued his interrogation, tapping the end of his cigarette again.
“Like I told you, I only know the bitch’s name.” Paulo admitted, “Nothing else. They never told me any of the other stuff, I swear.”
“Then you’re of no further use to me…” Dante turned to walk away, but stopped as soon as he heard his captive’s voice of desperation pleading once more.
“No, wait!” he looked to the darkly-dressed Mafia Boss as Dante slowly turned back around to listen to what his kneeling captive had to say, “I might know one more thing.”
Dante’s emerald eyes narrowed as he smiled menacingly.
Once his men had finished cleaning up the mess left behind after disposing of the loose-lipped Paulo, Nicola found Dante standing by the two-way mirrored window peering out over the currently empty nightclub that Dante himself owned. ‘High Stakes Nightclub’ it was called.
He and his connections had been busily searching for any details relating to an upcoming shipment of illegal guns and ammunition that was rumoured to be arriving in a matter of days, courtesy of his long-time rival Don Rafael Greco.
Rafael was yet another powerful and extremely dangerous Mafia Boss in the city and had recently been seeking to lay claim over Dante’s territory and overrun his business. And this was really beginning to piss Dante off!
“Boss, the… mess is taken care of.” Nicola announced, coming to stand beside his brooding boss, “What’s next?”
“We now have a name, but it’s not much to go on.” Dante reminded, “There could be thousands of Natalias in this city alone. We need to find out more about Rafael’s contact.”
Dante turned to face his second in command.
“Put your feelers out, Nicola. See what you can find out about this so-called shipment. I want details by tomorrow night, got it?”
“Right boss.” Nicola nodded, “Don’t forget you’ve got that board meeting tomorrow morning at ten.”
“Fuck, where is it again?”
“In at the Head Office, boss. Harworth’s been hounding me all day about confirming your attendance for this. Must be big. He’s unveiling something and he needs you there for the official presentation and approval.”
“Why can’t Matteo or Roberto represent the company for a change?” Dante queried, seeming frustrated at being summoned by someone as menial as Gary Harworth, the Chief Operations Officer of his family company, Romano Enterprises, “I’m sure my slack bastard brothers have nothing better to do on a Saturday morning.”
“Sorry boss, I’ve already checked. Roberto’s currently out of the country and Matteo’s already tied up with the whole search for the missing shipment.” Nicola explained with a disappointed frown.
“Typical.” Dante cursed under his breath, “Fine, tell Harworth I’ll make an appearance.”
He turned around to face his second-in-command with a stern expression on his face as he pointed with his hand holding onto the cigarette as he spoke.
“But if he thinks I’m sticking around for any press conferences or appearances he’s got another thing coming. One hour, that’s all he gets. Make sure he understands that.”
With a nod of his head Nicola smiled as he turned on his heel and headed out of the viewing box, leaving Dante alone to continue brooding in the darkness.
It wasn’t long before he would have to put on his alternate persona and play nice for the sake of his company, Romano Enterprises and its countless employees.
But not one of his employees knew him well enough, who he truly was deep down inside…
The real Dante Romano was much darker than they could have ever possibly imagined.